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6th Grade Blog                                                 February 24-27, 2019

JUDAICA

Today was a very special and important class in 6th grade. I had asked Karen Trager to come in and teach a lesson about G-d. After hearing students' ideas of confusion, disbelief, or wondering about G-d, I wanted to address this in a developmentally appropriate and engaging way. Before Karen came in, we answered the question, "What G-d do you Not Believe in?" which brought up some confusion - why is our Hebrew School teacher asking us reasons we don't believe in G-d? The exercise was a way to meet students where they are at and welcome various ideas of G-d. When Karen came in, she taught an incredibly critical lesson. There was rich discussion about free will and what free will means to us. We stood up to identify if we believed we were born with free will or not and if we though that G-d makes us the way we are and controls us or if we can make our own decisions. Karen shared a story about her mother, at a young age,  being deprived of Jewish traditions and rituals when her father died and this sparked some thinking in students. We discussed how the G-d we believe in now may or may not be the same G-d we believed in when we were 5 or the same G-d we will believe in when we are 75. Students were vulnerable and showed their true beliefs and thoughts, something I was so impressed with and appreciative of. In the end, almost all of the class voted to continue having this conversation with Karen facilitating in the future. We will definitely look into having Karen come back ASAP to continue doing this amazing work. Feel free to speak with your student about what was discussed in class if they are willing to share and please take a look at our whiteboard collection of notes (shown below)!

Becca

                     

6th Grade Blog                                                          February 20, 2019

JUDAICA

6th grade was small in number tonight and so we played a few games instead of delving into the lesson I had originally planned. The game was like "Scattergories" in the sense that the students were given a category or theme and were asked to list as many unique items as they could within the category in a specified amount of time. The catch was that they could not have the same word or phrase as another time, otherwise they would not get a point. The more creative, the better! We played with Judaism-related categories, one of which was "Jewish holidays and celebrations." We had some very interesting ideas for sure. We ended class by playing a game called "Ghost" where students have to go around and spell a word that they may or may not be aware of without ending a word or getting themselves into a situation where the word may not even exist. This was a fun way to spend our Wednesday evening!

Becca

6th Grade Blog                                                           February 10-13, 2019

HEBREW

On Sunday, we worked on the Tallit blessings and Nissim B'chol Yom - mastering and refining it.

On Wednesday, we broke into two small groups, where Maya and Mr. Z. worked on Nissim B'chol Yom with the students. We practiced reading and alternating lines to keep everyone mastering the total prayer. For some students, practice outside of class is needed. Homework was assigned to practice this prayer outside of class twice before next Wednesday.

Mr Z

 

JUDAICA

On Wednesday in 6th grade, we wrapped up our avodah (work, worship, service) unit of the curriculum. This unit was filled with understanding the parts of a Bar or Bat Mitzvah and what all of it truly means to us. We also had some other supplementary lessons in this past unit based on student wants. Today's lesson was all about reviewing what it means to be a part of Revelation and entering the covenant as a Jewish adult. We began with a fill-in-the-blank review of what we had learned so far that would ultimately help the students to be successful in the culminating activity. We had some discussion based on the review sheet as some students were unfamiliar with some things and had wanted extra review. We ended the class with a 15-question Kahoot! that I created complete with memes and funny gifs! (If you would like to take a look at the Kahoot! or play it yourself, here is the link (https://create.kahoot.it/share/6th-grade-avodah-review/1bdfbef7-1f4e-4edf-a1af-8e5f598c54d9). We had so much fun with this Kahoot! as well as engaging in some meaningful learning. It seems clear that the students really kept what they learned in their memory! Thanks for so much enthusiasm!

       

As the students came in on Sunday, the words שליח ציבור sh’liach tzibur were written on the board in Hebrew and transliteration. I handed the students sticky notes and asked them to write what they thought the definition was. People could make up silly definitions or ones that they thought sound serious. I told students to think about the roots of the Hebrew word and try to figure out the meaning. Sh’liach means “messenger” and tzibur means “public.” There are many critical features of the role of sh’liach tzibur and today the students explored and reflected on the importance of those roles. In the activity, students rotated among five stations set up in the room, each of which explored a different role of sh’liach tzibur. The messenger, the master of prayers, the representative, the exemplar, and the leader. Each station came set-up with a description and an activity. Students left class having a fuller understanding of the sh’liach tzibur and spent time relating it to their own lives.

Becca

       

6th Grade Blog                                                            February 3-6, 2019

HEBREW

On Sunday, the majority of our class was worked on Nissim B'chol Yom in small groups.

On Wednesday, we had music with Tami. The rest of the class time was spent on our Hebrew assessment tests. 

Mr Z

 

JUDAICA

On Wednesday in 6th grade, I had planned a lesson about the before and after Torah prayers and found out that the students had already learned something similar with the sub  they had while I was in Israel! Mistakes happen! A couple of students suggested that we do Kahoot! an interactive trivia game. Going along with what the students were excited about, I complied! I began creating my own 10-question Kahoot! with various topics that we have learned about so far. Once we finished that Kahoot!, we looked at pre-made Jewish ones and had a little fun with them. To say the least, it was a high-energy, fun class full of competition! Winners are pictured below!

       

       

 

I started class on Sunday by reminding the students what a rite of passage is and how we studied and learned about rites of passages in other cultures. Today was all about studying and discussing a rite of passage in Judaism: a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. Before we began our main activity for the day, I asked the students what does a Bar or Bat Mitzvah imply about what is valued in Jewish culture? The sixth graders came up with a lot of great answers including knowledge, a religion of lifetime learning, leadership, dedication, and community. I next passed out a series of papers with questions written at the top. The students were to answer thought-provoking questions related to Bar or Bat Mitzvah. The question sheets were rotated among the room so that everybody got a chance to answer each of the questions. Some of the questions include: should those who become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah be required to participate in services every once in a while? why do you want to become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah? do you think teenagers value the party more than the hard work that goes into the service, do you believe a Bar or Bat Mitzvah-aged person is spiritually mature? is 12/13 too young to appreciate what a Bar or Bat Mitzvah really means? and more. I was extremely impressed and appreciative of the students' responses to the questions. They took them very seriously and it was clear that much thought was put into each of their responses. For example, Josh discussed that there is kind of a polarity when deciding whether or not Bar or Bat Mitzvah students should continue to participate in services. He said that Bar or Bat Mitzvah-aged people have studied for a lot of their lifetime and so perhaps they should be relieved of their contributions. However, he also noted that there is some sort of respect that post-Bar or Bat Mitzvah people may feel towards the community in the form of contributing back to the community. Sophia mentioned that she thinks Bar or Bat Mitzvah are both communal rituals as well as performances. She said that the ceremony brings people together to celebrate the changing from child to adult and it could also be a performance like a one-time thing to some people but for others it's a start of their journey in Judaism. I felt our discussion was both meaningful and productive and I hope that it gets your children thinking about what a Bar or Bat Mitzvah means not only to them, but to Judaism as a whole.

Becca

                           

6th Grade Blog                                                    January 27-30, 2019

JUDAICA

Thanks parents for sending your students today despite the messy weather; I hope everyone stays safe and warm tonight! This afternoon we talked about what a rite of passage was. Many students had not been exposed to the term before, but I welcomed their thoughts on what a rite of passage could be. I next read to them various blurbs about rites of passage in different cultures. Some of these included the Kinaalda for Navajo girls, circumcision in Islam, Poy Sang Long in Burma, debutante balls in England, and the Quinceanera in Mexico. I was extremely grateful to hear some students share some rites of passage that they also knew about. Andrew mentioned how coyotes become adults at a very young age and must go off and start their own pack. Elias mentioned that a certain culture paints their youth white and when the paint completely rubs off they are considered an adult. We discussed what being an adult truly means as we questioned whether or not 12-13 in Judaism really denotes "adultness." We decided that adulthood is essentially constructed by culture and therefore has many meanings. We plan to continue this lesson next time as I hope to connect it to larger themes associated with the Bar or Bat Mitzvah in Judaism!
 
Becca
 
   
 

HEBREW

On Sunday, the class learned and worked on the holiday of Tu B'Shevat (Tree's Birthday) including general knowledge, the story of "Honi and the Carob Tree" and other details on the holiday.

The students took a Hebrew assessment test, reviewed the Shehecheyanu, worked on Nissim B'chol Yom and started the before and after Torah blessings. 

On Wednesday, we worked on reviewing pages 32-57 in class and covered Units 5-8 overall. We also worked in class on assessment updates on the AvotG'VurotNissim B'chol Yom and Shehecheyanu.

Mr Z

6th Grade Blog                                                          January 23, 2019

JUDAICA

With Tu B'Shevat just happening this past Monday, I wanted to teach the 6th graders a little more about the holiday. We began by discussing what we already knew about the holiday followed by a little bit more background. I talked about how the holiday literally means the 15th of Shevat and how the holiday is not mentioned in the Torah, just in the Mishneh. We briefly talked about the 7 species associated with Tu B'Shevat and how they each have individual meanings associated with them. The main activity of the class was when the students got to use their creativity, choose one of the seven species and a partner, and present it however they wanted. We ended up with a few skits, some songs, and a few advertisements! I loved how students got to gain some new knowledge about Tu B'Shevat while expressing themselves creatively. Below are some examples of the projects!

Becca

 

HEBREW

Today, our class worked on assessments of Ma Tovu and the Tallit blessing in class. We also attended music with our cantorial soloist, Tami.

6th grade will have a substitute teacher on this upcoming Sunday (1/27) as Mr. Z and Becca will be with the 3rd grade Jewish Family Education program. It will be a day to work on Hebrew, learn about Tu B’shevat and take a test on letters and vowels.

Mr Z

6th Grade Blog                                                       January 13-16, 2019

JUDAICA 

Wednesday's class was based around Maimonides and his ladder of charity that was broken down into 8 degrees. The students mentioned to me that they had already spent a class discussing this last year in their Judaica class which was perfect background for the discussion. Each degree of charity was followed by a brief discussion and an example of this act of charity. For example, the first degree of charity is to help a person help him- or herself. This is the top level because it is teaching someone a trade or skill to help him- or herself better themselves. Most of the students chose to do brief skits to show an example of a level of charity; I really valued this creativity. We then discussed if we agreed with Maimonides and if we think that some levels are better than others or if the "lowest" level is even considered a level of charity. One student even added more levels into what we had written based on his background. The 6th graders seemed to enjoy this discussion and were invested in making it meaningful which I appreciated!

              

Sunday's class was focused on understanding how improv could possibly have to do with life and Judaism. Many, if not all, of the students were skeptical about improv relating to religious school. Of course, they were not complaining that we got to play fun games! We created a poster titled how improv relates to Judaism. After a discussion, we added a few things to the poster. We said that improv levels the playing field, it activates deeper thinking, it helps people to really be understood, and when plans fail you must be flexible in order to succeed. We also had a talk about whether there's a difference between hearing and listening. I explained that I think that people don't just want someone to listen to their words, but they really want to be heard or understood. Hearing is not always an easy task. There are multiple examples in the Torah where truly hearing someone is being reinforced. I mentioned an example about Sarah and Adam having a discussion. One student very astutely asked how being flexible relates to Judaism. I offered two answers: one, that we must be flexible in our interpretations of the Torah and two, that many Jews believe that
G-d has an ultimate plan for them and that we must trust in G-d's plan and therefore be flexible in our daily lives when things may seem to go wrong. We also talked about how important community is in both Judaism and improv. Everyone agreed that improv requires willing participants as well as an audience; this is the same for Judaism. Lastly, we talked about learning to be comfortable with discomfort. In Judaism we must learn to be comfortable when certain things may offer us discomfort because we are unable to know the reason for everything.

Becca

 

HEBREW

On Sunday, we continued small-group work  in the area that each student needed help on. Prayers covered today were Avot v'Imahot, G’urot, Ma Tovu, and Nissim B’chol Yom. All students should be practicing outside of class and reviewing prayers that they need to refine!

We worked in small groups and pairs on Wednesday on prayers that were relevant to what each student was working on. Music with Tami occurs on Wednesdays so our Hebrew class time is shorter on these days.

Mr Z

6th Grade Blog                                                            January 6-9, 2019

JUDAICA

Today in sixth grade, we explored improv and its relationship to life lessons. When I was in Israel, I took a class all about improv and how it can be related to Judaism. I began the class by asking students if anyone knew the major role of improv. Very quickly, someone mentioned that you have to always continue speaking and never deny the last speaker's words. I explained that in real life, this rule also applies. Although we shouldn't say yes to everything in our lives, it is important to keep conversations moving forward and value others. When at work or in school, talking to classmates or a teacher, it is better to build ideas rather than immediately shut them down. I began with a brief example of an improv game where somebody's thumb controlled whether or not I positively or negatively spoke about a specific topic. I mentioned that this could apply to daily life and speaking negatively about others and being cognizant of it, lashon hara. We then spent the rest of classwork workshopping a bunch of improv games where various students got to be participants. We had a lot of fun with this, especially the game called "Gibberish" where students got to translate other students' nonsensical speaking. We were having fun with this and so I promised the students that we could continue with some improv next class as long as we were able to debrief and recognize how most of this relates to our daily lives as well as Judaism.

Becca

 

HEBREW

We had a great class on Sunday with all small-group work with Mr. Z and madrichim! The prayers covered were Modeh/Modah Ani, V’ahavta, Sh’ma and about G'vurot

On Wednesday, students worked either in pairs or with Mr. Z on an assessment of Ma Tovu and Nissim B’chol Yom.

Mr Z

6th Grade Blog                                                      January 2, 2019

JUDAICA

This Wednesday we discussed the Ten Commandments and their relevance to today.  The students were very good at remembering the commandments and their order.  The students then created their own Ten Commandments, and discussed why they felt that having commandments is still important today, even if they believe different commandments should be in the top ten.

-Josh Gertler for Becca

              

HEBREW

On Wednesday, students worked in small groups with Mr. Z on Ma Tovu and with Maya on Nissim B'chol Yom. Homework: students should be working 1-4x/week on their prayers.

Mr Z

6th Grade Blog                                                   December 16-19, 2018

JUDAICA

On Wednesday I briefly introduced the students to some vocabulary words regarding the Torah service in preparation for a Torah service walkthrough.  Mr. Z had planned an end-of-the-year celebration for the 3rd and 6th grade students, which we joined.

On Sunday we continued our discussion about reading the Torah publicly as a community. We had a four-corner discussion where the students had to decide if they thought the Torah should be read publicly or not, with two options allowing students to have some reservations. Many students thought the Torah should be read publicly to provide the community experience, while some suggested that we don’t need to read the Torah publicly anymore because we have the technology to stream it into our homes and onto our phones today.  

Josh

       

 

HEBREW

Students worked in small groups with Mr. Z on the Shema and V'ahavta and with Molly on Ma Tovu.

Mr Z

 

6th Grade Blog                                                     December 9-12, 2018

JUDAICA

This Wednesday we discussed the Torah service, why a minyan (ten participants) is required, and why it is important to have community experiences. The students shared their experiences watching sports, movies, and concerts, and all agreed that these experiences meant more when surrounded by their peers. The students also were surprised to learn that a famous ancient rabbi, Ezra, would read the Torah at the market place. Today it would be odd to see a rabbi reading Torah at a mall, but back then, the marketplace was the easiest way for people to gather and for information to be communicated.

Sunday morning was spent watching the wonderful URJ camp presentation!  Eva Gruenberg, assistant director of Eisner Camp, presented an awesome program featuring CKH campers! We were informed about all of the 3 URJ summer camps in our region - Eisner, Crane Lake and 6 Points Sci-Tech. If you would like more information about going to camp, please contact Karen or Eva at EGruenberg@urj.org!

The remainder of the morning was spent combined with the 3rd grade class. I had mentioned to the 6th graders that I would be going to Israel for almost 4 weeks to visit some friends and do a learning program, and I promised them that we could write letters for me to place in the Western Wall on their behalf. To make the best use of our time, I decided it would make sense to combine classes. I began by talking briefly about what the Western Wall is and why it’s so holy and asked some students what they already knew about the Western Wall. We then brainstormed some possible ideas and sentence starters for the letters we would be writing. We spent about 15 minutes working hard on our letters and quietly respecting the privacy of others. I promised the students I would come back with a selfie of me placing their letters in the wall! The rest of class was spent practicing singing some Hanukkah songs and reading part of the Hanukkah story! I will miss all of your children very much while I am in Israel, and I look forward to bringing back a wealth of information to teach and share with them!

Becca

                                      

 

HEBREW

On Sunday, the group combined with 3rd grade to work on our blessings and songs being done at t'filah.

On Wednesday, we did a huge review of all the blessings the group should know including: Shabbat candles, blessings over the bread and wine, holiday blessings and the shehecheyanu.

Mr Z

 

6th Grade Blog                                                             December 2-5, 2018

JUDAICA

Happy 4th night of Hanukkah! We spent a while at the beginning of class sharing about our Hanukkah celebrations so far in the dark, only with the light of the menorah which looked so cool! Many students shared about the awesome gifts they received, and we also talked about the real meaning of Hanukkah, which doesn’t have much to do with material items. Many students really appreciate the time that they get to spend with their families and friends.

I began the next part of the lesson, which was discussing if there is a difference between telling someone something and revealing something. Everyone agreed that there was a difference, but we struggled to really differentiate them. We decided that revealing something is something that is disclosed or made seen/understood. I explained that at Mount Sinai, Moses revealed the Torah to the Jewish people in an act known as Revelation. I read the students a short passage about the people receiving the Torah and asked them how it made them feel and why this was such an important moment in Jewish history - after all, it was the moment we received something that is still so prevalent in our lives today.

Becca

 

HEBREW

We are currently working on Ma Tovu (p. 172).

Mr Z

 

JEWISH FAMILY EDUCATION: HANUKKAH!

On Sunday in religious school for sixth grade was our first JFE (Jewish Family Education program), which happened to fall on the first night of Hanukkah! I was so happy to see so many parents and students at this program and really appreciated everybody’s participation and excitement. The program began with an explanation about what we would be doing. I explained how there would be stations that students and parents could visit freely freely; however, I hoped they would spend a sufficient amount of time at each of the stations. Each student would be asked to collect six stickers, five from the stations and one bonus sticker which required students to have a parent visit three of the stations. The card-making station gave the students an opportunity to work with their parents or individually on creating a Hanukkah card for someone special to them, whether that be their family members, friends, teachers, etc. “Dreidel with a Twist” was where students played the classic game of dreidel, but when they spun a letter, they chose a card with the matching Hebrew letter and got to choose if they would complete a task or answer a question on the card to result in a reward or a consequence. We ended up playing this game with the whole group (parents included). It was a lot of fun to play a version of dreidel that’s not usually played! One of the more popular stations was the Photo Booth. Students got to dress up with their friends or family at the booth and try all the fun props! To earn a sticker, students had to show a teacher or madrich the picture taken at the Photo Booth and share a creative caption. Another arguably favorite station was the eating station. Students and families got to enjoy traditional Hanukkah foods like latkes and sufganiyot and learn about why they are important to the meaning of Hanukkah. A sticker was awarded when students could say in his or her own words why we eat the food we do on Hanukkah. One of my favorite stations was the last station called “8 Reasons to Be Grateful.” Students and their families got the chance to really think about things they are grateful for, one reason for each night of Hanukkah. This station also had a poster board with a giant menorah where students and families could write one reason they are grateful and their name if they would like. The poster was then placed in the front lobby of the synagogue in hopes that congregants and other students would write why they are grateful. Students left the program with more knowledge about Hanukkah as well as a personalized Hanukkah blessing book and fun memories with their friends! I hope everyone who came really enjoyed themselves, and Happy Hanukkah!

Becca

6th Grade Blog                                                            November 28, 2018

JUDAICA

This week in sixth grade, I decided to abandon the original lesson that I had planned because there were not enough people for it to run the way that I had hoped. Instead, I decided to have a very relaxed class where the few students who were there got to create Hanukkah cards for some of the congregants who are at college and cannot be home to celebrate Hanukkah with their families. It was nice to have a class that was chill where students got to be creative! I loved seeing all of their beautiful designs and nice messages that would definitely make some college kids in the middle of studying for stressful finals very happy!

            

Becca

6th Grade Blog                                                             November 18, 2018

HEBREW

We worked in class today on Mah Tovu, Shema and V'ahavta. Many of the students are solid in their basic prayers. We will continue working on Mah Tovu and will begin Nissim B'Chol Yom next.

Mr. Z 

 

JUDAICA

On Sunday in sixth grade, I allowed students to have a bit of freedom and asked them to write a song related to how they feel about their relationship with G-d or Judaism. I intentionally left it very open so students could it take it as they please and if they may not believe, or if they were uncomfortable with the topic, they could take it in a different direction. I absolutely love the creativity I find in this class, and so I often try to design open and creative activities for them and I hope that they appreciate it! I did give students some structure and asked them to pick a song that they already knew and re-write the lyrics to portray what they had hoped to show. We had such a variety of songs from more recent, popular songs to older songs, and everything in between. This activity takes a lot of effort as the students had to represent how they feel about something and they also had to do so by setting it to music that was already written in certain syllables and sung in certain ways. Class ended with each group performing! The only thing I would’ve hoped is that we would have time to debrief and reflect on our songs, but we didn’t get the chance to.

                                          

Becca

6th Grade Blog                                                          November 11-14, 2018

HEBREW

On Sunday, we did some work on a few holiday readings, including "Maybe Even Higher" and "Moses' Mistake." We were discussing that study and prayer alone are not holy. It's what they encourage you to do that make them holy. It's one of my favorite stories.

On Wednesday, our class worked on Avot/Imahot and G'Vurot and covered the great story of "Jonah and the Great Fish." This wrapped up our holiday coverage until Chanukah.

Mr Z

 

JUDAICA

I aim to meet the creative needs of the sixth grade and so I decided to try something that was more open than any other activity we had done so far. On the board, I made a box and inside I wrote skit, debate, poster, song, poem, and lecture. These are the options students had to perform at the end of class. Of course, I was open to any other ideas as long as students checked in with me about it first. To the right of the box, I wrote some controversial questions in hopes that it would lead students to an interesting presentation. The questions I wrote are : If there’s a G-d, why do bad things happen? Should women be able to be rabbis? Should services be in English? Are you really Jewish if you don’t believe in G-d? Is Judaism a part of your life or a part of you? I am aware of how complicated these questions are and did not expect any well-defined answers. What I did expect was that students would really think about what they were saying and come up with ideas that were meaningful to them, which turned out to be a really interesting activity!

                                         

Sunday in class my anticipated sequence went a little off-track when a student asked "why do we always have to do Jewish things in Hebrew school?" Instead of dismissing the question, I reframed it as an opportunity to discuss different teaching strategies as well as lesson approaches that the students would really be interested in. Some students preferred debates, while others preferred putting on skits or watching movies. I really plan to take these ideas into consideration.

To begin the lesson, I played two songs on YouTube that came from Psalm 118 and Psalm 29. The songs each conveyed very different emotions and reflected different choices that the composer had decided to make. We discussed what type of emotion was meant to be evoked and how the music may have made the students feel. Prior to class, I taped up four Psalms around the room in no particular order. The Psalms included a range of expression of the authors relationship with G-d. The students' jobs were to read the Psalms and highlight passages that were meaningful to them in some way. To add a bit more structure and fun, I had the students each get three sticky notes: a pink one, an orange one, and a green one. The pink one represented which Psalm confused them and why. The orange sticky note represented how they think the authors see G-d, and the green sticky note was where the students had to choose the Psalm that best represented their relationship with
G-d and why. If they didn’t believe any of them resonated, I asked them to make a general comment using their green sticky note. Afterwords, I noticed some trends among the Psalms with certain colors and conducted a class discussion on what psalms may have meant to people and how it related to his/her relationship with G-d.

               

Becca

6th Grade Blog                                                             November 4-7, 2018

HEBREW

On Wednesday, we did a little small-group work on the prayers from Sunday. Another group worked with me on learning (and almost completing) Mah Tovu. Enjoy the next few days. See you Sunday.

The students had a substitute teacher on Sunday. They worked in small groups on either refining Shema and V'ahavta or Avot and G'vurot. The other students worked on Mah Tovu, which is our next prayer.

Mr Z

 

JUDAICA

Wednesday sixth grade was all about T'hillim, which means Psalms. I began class by asking the students if there has ever been a time when they heard good news or bad news and they wanted to react, but did not know the words to say. We talked about what emotions we might have felt and what we do when we are at a loss for words. For some, our discussion was very personal. I told the students that today we are going to look at poetry, specifically concentrating on poetry to G-d. Often when Jews have found themselves in an emotional situation and cannot express themselves with their own words, they can turn to Psalms. The students engaged in a little annotation activity where they went around to tables reading Psalms and commenting on what we learned that the author feels about G-d, what we feel when we read the Psalms, and what we learn about the relationship between the writer and G-d. I told the students that Psalms are intriguing because they are the one place in the Tanach that does not show G-d reaching out or demanding something from humans. Rather the poems represent thoughts, wishes, pleadings, and prayers of people searching for G-d.  Because they reflect a wide range of emotions, many people turn to them. Students will get a chance to engage in writing psalms next class!


We began Sunday's class by celebrating Julia’s birthday with some baked goods and munchkins! We FaceTimed Josh in for part of the lesson, which was a ton of fun! I then began helping students understand that the book of wisdom is not a collection of sayings that suggest easy answers, but is, instead, a process that actively engages Torah and hearing G-d’s voice in our decision-making about what is best or growing with the support of the Jewish community. I put the following words on the board: censorship, pessimist, and realist. We discussed our preconceived notions of what these words may mean. I explained to the students that in this lesson they will be studying wisdom from the Kohelet and asked them to share their ideas based on what they have studied about wisdom literature and what they might expect to find in a book of wisdom literature. I read the following quote to the students: “The most important rabbis, who were deciding what to put in the Bible, tried to hide the Book of Ecclesiastes (Kohelet) and keep it from being included in the Bible.”  I asked them what they thought about the fact that Rabbis actually wanted to hide this book and what possible reasons they may have had for doing this. I explained that Kohelet poses questions that are meaningful such as: Why do bad things happen to good people? Does what we do really matter? What is the purpose of life? These are difficult and and challenging questions worthy of discussion. We discussed a portion of Kohelet and talked about why it may have been confusing or controversial. Students read two examples of contradictions and the students led a discussion on what we read. We wondered why these would have been questioned for inclusion in the tanakh. In the end, I left the students with a question: do you believe Kohelet was a pessimist, a realist or both?

        

Becca

6th Grade Blog                                                              October 28 2018

HEBREW

In class today, we covered some holiday stories and readings from Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur that are relevant to Judaism and Tikkun Olam.

Mr. Z

 

JUDAICA

"A proverb is a convenient package of wisdom, neatly tied up in attractive language, telling much in a few words” (Dr. Mortimer J. Cohen). I started by asking the students if they knew what a proverb is and provided them with the above quote on the board. Students gave ideas regarding short sentences of advice or wisdom. I gave a few examples of English proverbs like "a stitch in time saves nine," "the early bird catches the worm," "two wrongs don’t make a right," and "keep your friends close and your enemies closer." I explained that we will be exploring proverbs in the Bible to learn about a Jewish source of this kind of wisdom. The Book of Mishlei is generally perceived as an instructional manual in ethics and morality. To show its message, it often includes riddles, words from the wise, and metaphors. Proverbs are argued to be the most accessible and relatable in biblical literature. I chose a few proverbs to use for an activity and asked for student volunteers to read to the class. Students stood on their chairs if they agreed with the proverb, sat in their chairs if they were confused, and lay on the ground if they did not agree with the proverb (show in pictures). I also had sheets of paper with proverbs on them and left plenty of room for student annotation. To give students a head start, I had my own thoughts written on each of the sheets as a way to scaffold. The sheets rotated through the tables and/or students and I asked them to put down their thoughts, annotations, and questions: What purpose do Proverbs serve?

          

Becca

6th Grade Blog                                                         October 21-24, 2018

HEBREW

On Wednesday, we read the Sukkot story "House On The Roof." We worked as a large group on refining the Shema and V'ahavta in pairs to enunciate the correct words and rhythm.  We read the words and chanted by paragraphs. The students were pretty happy with how we worked.  Wednesdays are always more challenging since we have no additional staff.  We have continued with Mah Tovu up to eight lines.

Please remember there is no class next Wednesday, October 31.  

Also, take note of how important Sunday mornings are all year, since that is when we have the opportunity to help children individually and specifically in areas that help them excel.  Quite often, we work on prayers they need help with, or ways they can learn more material.

On Sunday, we did small-group work together on our Hebrew prayers.  Our main focus is on Shema and V'ahavta, Avot v'Imahot, G'vurot, Modeh/Modah Ani.  Most of the students are doing well and are pretty strong in these areas.  We are refining them for perfection.  We are working on Mah Tovu, which is new to nearly all, and we have started learning the first six lines.

Jeff

 

JUDAICA

Wednesday in sixth grade, I introduced wisdom literature to the students. Moving forward, we will learn about wisdom according to Jewish texts, what G-d has to do with wisdom, and how ancient Jewish perspectives speak to wisdom today. I left the students with one question: what makes somebody wise? I let students go up to the board and write or draw whatever they thought made a person wise. Some students wrote that a wise prison learns from others and themselves, has knowledge, has been through hard times and struggled, being successful, and more. Wisdom is often hard to identify in the Bible and there are two books of wisdom literature - Mishlei which is the Proverbs and Kohelet which is Ecclesiastes - to learn about wisdom as it is meaningful to our lives today.

 

The rest of class was spent on an activity that required focus and whole-class teamwork. I told students that I had a bunch of cards with words on them and they had to decide with whatever classification system they wanted, how they would organize the cards. Some of the cards had words such as wisdom, inspiring, self reflection, emotional, smart, educated, wealthy, experienced, understanding, and more. I also included blank cards so students could add some of their own ideas. Some students added words like memories, kind hearted, family and friends, and health. In the end, the students decided to organize the cards in a certain order from what seems like superficial to more genuine. They even decided to place cards underneath another to show equal importance or similarity. I would be interested to see how this activity would have been different if I chose different cards, smaller groups, or if I had told them what I expected from them.

          

 

Sunday in sixth grade, it was finally performance day after many classes working on their Ruth plays. Mandy came in to watch and was very impressed with the creativity and hard work that went into our plays. I let the students put finishing touches on their performances for the first few minutes of class and then we went right into performances. The first group created a very ingenious musical where they incorporated songs such as The Mushroom Man (based off of The Muffin Man), Walking in a Field (based off of Living on a Prayer), and Marry You by Bruno Mars. They also incorporated props such as a ring and a toy baby, and much more. The second group put on a puppet show showing that G-d was orchestrating each event in the story, just like puppets are being controlled by the hands of the puppeteers. This play was more of an improv play, and was very creative in its design.

               

To wrap up class and to wrap up the story of Ruth, I had a student do a closure activity. I had three questions written on the board and asked the students to answer two of them on their sticky notes. The first question was, "Why in the first verse of the story does it speak of Elimelech in an obscure way, only revealing his name in the second verse when he arrives in Moab?" The second question was, "after the death of her husband, Naomi returned to Bethlehem and told everybody to call her Marah which means bitter. Nobody actually called her this, however. Why would she be asking others to call her this and why is she never referred to as Marah?" Lastly I asked, "even though Bethlehem, a part of Israel, was experiencing a famine, why might it still mean The House of Bread?" The students' answers were clearly well thought-out and brought up really great points about the story and some different perspectives that I had never considered prior.

 

Best, 

Becca

6th Grade Blog                                                        October 14-17, 2018

JUDAICA

Wednesday in sixth grade was our last day of workshopping our plays. The students seemed to want to put some finishing touches on their plays and I asked them to complete another aspect of their play. I thought it was important for the students to do some reflection on their play and on their choices. As a group, I asked the students to explain how they would describe their perspective on the story M'gillat Rut. I also asked them why their group made certain artistic choices in the planning and creation of their play. In other words, how was your perspective of the story shown in your play? While students were practicing songs, finishing their puppets, and making props I went around to help students workshop. One group even had the chance to perform their play at the end of class. I am looking forward to seeing the other two plays on Sunday!

        

Sunday in sixth grade it was very loud, but it was productive noise! The students continue to work on their group plays describing their perspective about m'gillat Rut. I love how each of the students brought their own creativity and perspectives into their plays. I had some groups printing out diamond rings, while another group was creating props, and another group was making puppets for their puppet show.

Next class, we plan to perform our brief plays. I asked each of the groups to be able to tell the class or write a reflection and/or description explaining why their play has the features that it has. For example, one group is doing a play called "The Betrayal," which is a puppet show. The group decided to do a puppet show because their perspective is that G-d orchestrates all things and that is the reason that m'gillat Rut exists. The puppets are being controlled by an omniscient being, in this case, G-d. I am attaching pictures from class today so you can see how hard your children have been working. It was so great to see how much fun they were having while doing this!

               

Becca

 

HEBREW

On Wednesday, we read a Sukkot story in class called "The Invisible Guests" and discussed it.  We are working on our required prayers together while assessments are being done.

On Sunday, we focused on small-group activity, which enabled students to work on areas where they needed help. Our prayers covered today were Shema/V'ahavta and Avot/G'vurot. We will continue this during the next two classes. Most students are strong, and everyone needs to keep practicing.

Mr Z

6th Grade Blog                                                  October 10, 2018

JUDAICA

Today we continued our series of lessons that we will be spending on the M'gillah Rut. I began by having a student summarize what she remembered from the story last week and I reminded them of key events. I also reminded the students that they voted on a perspective on the story last week and offered them the chance to reconsider - change or keep their opinion the same. I explained that each perspective would be turning into an eventual script. The students met with their groups, discussed a game plan for their script and came up with a title as well. During our planning time, some students asked if they could switch groups and I ended up in a group with a student who wanted to explore the least popular option. I loved how dedicated the students were and how willing they were to explore their options.

Next class, we will continue with our script by creating a storyboard aligned with our specific perspective on the story.

Becca

 

HEBREW

Over the next few classes, I am assessing students' prayer abilities so that I am aware of where each student's skills fall. Our first prayer group includes Shema, V'ahavta, Avot/G'vurot, Modeh/Modah Ani and Mah Tovu.

Mr Z

6th Grade Blog                                                         October 3, 2018

HEBREW

In class today, we covered the final day of classroom rules and procedures. We discussed our 1st Friday Service that will be held on Friday, October 5th, with a Shabbat service and Chinese food dinner. This is the one service that honors your student this year, along with  the 7th graders. We began looking at assigning specific prayers and English readings and each student is encouraged to participate. We look forward to seeing everyone there!

Mr Z

 

JUDAICA

Today at religious school we discussed M’gillat Rut which is read on Shavuot. I started the lesson by having the students get into groups and come up with homonyms. I then had the students read an abridged version of the story. We talked about meanings of the names and locations in the story and how they may be ironic. I offered three options regarding the text for us to discuss. I wondered if the story was showing Elimelech and his sons dying as a punishment for not helping in a time of need. I also offered the explanation that G-d orchestrated Ruth to return to Judah in order to become a major person in history. She is King David's great, great, great, etc. grandmother. My last explanation was that G-d has no role and that G-d learns from how humans react to difficult situations. I really loved having this mature, interesting conversation with the 6th graders.

Becca

6th Grade Blog                                                       September 23-26, 2018

JUDAICA

Today in 6th grade, I hid 14 strips of paper around the room. After students found all of them, I asked them to please read to themselves what their strip/s of paper said and think about how they can put them into their own words. This was a way to briefly introduce students to literature found in k'tuvim or Writings in the Tanakh. All of the strips were from various parts of k'tuvim like the Prophets, Psalms, and the Megillot. I was very impressed with the students' interpretations of their strips; they attempted to decipher text even though they had no idea of the context of what they were reading. We ended up having a discussion about the strips and how they can be meaningful to our own lives, right up until we had music. I can't wait to continue our studies of the Writings in class! I hope everyone has a wonderful week and remember, no religious school on Sunday!

 

Sunday in sixth grade, we spent the class talking about Sukkot which is this week! I started by taking a poll to see what the students already knew about this fun, harvest holiday. After some silliness and claiming that Sukkot was a game of numbers pronounced sudoku, or it was a game played with a lemon and a stick, we finally got down to the real significance of the holiday. I was very impressed by the students' thoughts and how they knew a sukkah only has 3 walls because it is meant to be temporary as well as open and welcoming. As a class, we created sukkah decorations! I gave each student a triangle in which they could create something related to Sukkot and share some acts of kindness that they have done or received. They came out so beautifully (thanks to my student helpers for putting it together). Lastly, we played "If the Wall Had Ears" where students pretended to be a wall of a sukkah and other students interviewed and questioned them about what goes on inside their walls. This was a fun way to wrap up the class!

Best, 
Becca

 

HEBREW

In class on Sunday, we covered the final classroom rules and procedures. We discussed our 1st Friday Shabbat Service that will be held on Friday, October 5th, with a service and Chinese dinner. This is the one 1st Friday service involving your student this year, and it will include the 7th graders. We began looking at assigning specific prayers and English readings, and each student is encouraged to participate. We look forward to seeing everyone there!

It was a pleasure meeting so many parents last Sunday. This will be my 25th year of teaching religious school, and my 18th year at Kol Haverim. My fulltime work is with Connecticut Lighting Centers, where I have been employed for 18 years in the Southington showroom.

If anyone has questions or concerns at any time, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. You can email MrZ@kolhaverim.org or call me. I look forward to a productive, fun-filled and exciting year for all of us!

Mr. Zagoren

6th Grade Blog                                                        September 16, 2018

JUDAICA

I am looking forward to this year very much and am excited to work with this class! Last year, sixth grade was an absolute blast, so I cannot wait to see what this year brings.

Today was a bit of an irregular schedule since we had opening remarks in the Sanctuary with Karen Trager and the Rabbi and then a little introduction with parents and students in Mr. Z's room. To reiterate a bit of what was talked about in the intro, I am a second-year teacher at CKH and just graduated from UConn in May with a bachelor's degree in elementary education, and am now in the process of completing my master's degree in curriculum and instruction.

The sixth grade curriculum explores the theme of Revelation as they learn the lessons of wisdom, the Books of Writings, community building, and even a bit of Israel. Since class was abbreviated today, we learned names (mostly I learned the students' names!), played a little "get-to-know-you" Jenga, and wrote out on note cards how/what we like to learn.

Have a meaningful Yom Kippur this week!

Becca

 

HEBREW

We had a great first class today. It was nice seeing so many parents involved in their children's Hebrew studies. We reviewed our general curriculum and some of the ground rules and expectations. I look forward to a great year, where we can help your children grow and be enriched.

Next week, we will finish covering the classroom rules and look at some High Holyday materials relevant to this time of year.

Please look for regular blog updates on what material is being covered in class.

Mr Z

Tue, March 26 2019 19 Adar II 5779